Indian Blogs: Slipping or growing in influence?

We brought out the seventh edition of Directory of Best Indian Blogs on 1st June 2017.

We have completed three rounds of manually checking and filtering blogs for the Directory. Every year during this process, we clean our database by removing dud blogs and yet it has bloated (again) to more than 50k because we used to keep blogs that had low regularity but were still somewhat active. This time, we have checked all such sleepish blogs and removed them for ever.

A handful of good blogs could not be considered as the bloggers have purposely made it difficult to know their dates of posting. Some have applied designs that convert the blog into a static website though they might be adding new posts there. 

Similarly, we had to reject blogs when the bloggers didn't divulge who they are, and it is impossible to know whether they are an individual, a group, a firm or an NGO and what is their purpose behind the blog. Google itself says, identity of the website owners is one of the key factors for a site's reputation on the web.

Indian-blogs-popular-make-moneyThis time, we searched Twitter for new blogs and collected over 2k URLs from there. This all has taken a lot of our time but the labor has proved fruitful.

Let's share what all we found during this process. 

  • Newspapers are disowning blogs. Some big newspapers and TV channels already had restrictive blogging platforms, but Hindustan Times - a big Indian English newspaper, which had a good collection of well-written blogs - has given it up. It still has a blog section hidden in a corner of the website, with no content as of now. Times of India, the biggest English newspaper in India, which tries monetizing every bit of its web property, has put a pop-under ad behind blogs. Many of its earlier blogs have died and its present blogs are nothing but re-posting of newspaper columns, but still worth reading because of high quality of content. These media houses have now denied the blogging platforms to many top Indian bloggers who are thinkers and opinion makers too.
  • As usual, many popular and reputed blogs have ceased to exist or become irregular. This mostly includes blogs that shared thoughts/ experiences  rather than selling anything, but some blogs on food and travel too have died. On the other hand, a few good ones that had gone to sleep have woken up. Overall, Indian blogging has lost a number of good blogs.
  • If bloggers think that only paid for / self-hosted blogs look professional or only they make money, the Directory will have some blogs that still are part of .blogspot or .wordpress domains and are successful in terms of popularity, reputation, even money-making. But, such blogs are very few. In fact, some of the top Indian bloggers in terms of contribution to information and discussion are these bloggers, more than those after money.
  • Making blogs for making money has caught up in India. Earlier seen in IT and food niches, it has become even more pronounced in travel niche. We came across a few hundred travel blogs by Indians, some of which are making good money. Interestingly, some bloggers have jumped to this activity leaving behind good jobs. A few bloggers (whom we contacted during writing a series on travel blogging recently) confided that they had adopted travel blogging as their full time job and are happy with it.  
  • Other themes that seem to be catching attention of bloggers in India are: photography, beauty, lifestyle (a mixed niche that generally includes grooming, fashion, decor, family, socialization and fitness) and book reviews. While insurance, health, relationship, career and real estate are also popular niches worldwide, these have not caught up in India. 
  • Indians are great cricket and music/ film fans, and yoga has originated in India and has become popular too, but there are not many blogs on these areas, not to speak of good blogs.
  • The blogging for money type of blogs are becoming more polished and often with high level of social media integration. Linking with Twitter and Instagram is pronounced while earlier Facebook used to be the first/ only choice.
  • Since more blogs are being opened for making money, bloggers' influence on branding seems to be growing, albeit in only a few niches such as travel.
  • The trend of opening multiple blogs seems to have declined. Moreover, though lesser number of blogs are now opening (thanks largely to social networking platforms), the percentage of blogs that sustain seems to be increasing. 
  • We have also been noticing of late is that a good number of serious bloggers keep blogging, though with low regularity. For example, a finance expert who is busy in his profession keeps writing once a month or so; a CEO takes out time to talk about Indian society's ills 2-3 times in a quarter; a retired government servants keeps discussing  governance issues on her blog.